Kafka began writing what he had entitled "Der Verschollene "("The Missing Person") in 1912 and wrote the last completed chapter in 1914. But it wasn t until 1927, three years after his death, that Max Brod, Kafka's friend and literary executor, edited the unfinished manuscript and published it as "Amerika." Kafka's first and funniest novel, "Amerika "tells the story of the young Karl Rossmann who, after an incident involving a housemaid, is banished by his parents to America. Expected to redeem himself in this magical land of opportunity, young Karl is swept up instead in a whirlwind of dizzying reversals, strange escapades, and picaresque adventures.
About the Author
Franz Kafka was born to Jewish parents in Bohemia in 1883. Kafka s father was a luxury goods retailer who worked long hours and as a result never became close with his son. Kafka s relationship with his father greatly influenced his later writing and directly informed his Brief an den Vater (Letter to His Father). Kafka had a thorough education and was fluent in both German and Czech. As a young man, he was hired to work at an insurance company where he was quickly promoted despite his desire to devote his time to writing rather than insurance. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote a great number of stories, letters, and essays, but burned the majority of his work before his death and requested that his friend Max Brod burn the rest. Brod, however, did not fulfill this request and published many of the works in the years following Kafka s death of tuberculosis in 1924. Thus, most of Kafka s works were published posthumously, and he did not live to see them recognized as some of the most important examples of literature of the twentieth century. Kafka s works are considered among the most significant pieces of existentialist writing, and he is remembered for his poignant depictions of internal conflicts with alienation and oppression. Some of Kafka s most famous works include The Metamorphosis, The Trial and The Castle.
Mark Harman, who has written extensively on German and Irish literature, is Professor of English and German at Elizabethtown College.
“We are not too far wrong to see in Karl Rossmann the explorer who maps the internal territory for the later Kafka hero Joseph K. of The Trial. It is a natural segue, after all, from the youth who lives to placate to the adult with the inescapable sense of guilt. In fact, we could propose Kafka as an artist in a lifelong search of the most accommodating conceit for his vision. Karl is the earliest of his eponymous heroes, all of them essentially one tormented soul whose hallucinatory landscape keeps changing.”
—E. L. Doctorow
“More than eighty years after his death from tuberculosis at age forty, Kafka continues to defy simplifications, to force us to consider him anew. That’s the effect of Mark Harman’s new translation of Amerika.”
—Los Angeles Times